Why I Don’t Pay For Autographs

Posted March 28th, 2013 by Tom Owens and filed in Bob Will

The late Bob Will wanted a donation to
a children’s hospital for an autograph TTM.
However, he’d turn his reply into a Christmas
present, adding a photo, multi-page letter
or other surprises!

Please, stick with me. I need to do some thinking out loud.

I understand there are complete set autograph collectors. I understand some are team collectors. No matter what, the goal is to get one of everyone.

Whether that person wants to sign autographs or not.

I don’t view autographs as products. I know about eBay. I know about dealers and shows. And I know about fan mail handlers who convince once-free signers into charging, only to split the profits.

Sorry, I’m still idealistic. When I was in elementary school, I believed that the players who liked my letter replied, because of who I was and what I shared.

They, in return, shared their signature.

I still see autographs as gifts. We give a gift because of that connection, no matter how temporary or fleeting.

That’s why I don’t buy autographs or pay to coax the unwilling to sign.

I will share news of those sign-for-pay guys, especially those who are trying to benefit charity.

Meanwhile, I can’t shake the beliefs of the kid I was. I’ll keep sharing my stories in letters, hoping former players will do the same. Not because of the check enclosed or the autograph show ticket I bought.

Baseball Owners: Move Faster Than Cooperstown!

Posted March 26th, 2013 by Tom Owens and filed in George Steinbrenner

Famed owners haven’t always been highly-sought
autographs, nor eager signers. However, they’ve
remained regular correspondents. If you want
to find their autographs, start with their letters.

Letters are underrated.

Not just sending them. Getting one back.

In the case of baseball owners, I think you might have a better chance getting correspondence back than a signed ball, photo or card.


I’m guessing that George Steinbrenner will be the next team owner joining the Hall of Fame.

Studying up at www.sportscollectors.net, collectors were getting the “ebay defense” turndown even in 2006. Others found that he’d sign photos or balls, but not cards.

Sure, you’ll see letters from team owners with secretary-signed “signatures” or even autopens. However, if it’s a topic the owner cares about, bet the executive will have a personal say and signature on the paper.

If you wait until Cooperstown calls, it may be too late.

Goodbye, Virgil Trucks

Posted March 24th, 2013 by Tom Owens and filed in Detroit News, Virgil Trucks, World War II
Even in his final year, Virgil insisted on a signature
that denoted every letter in his name. He will be missed!

Winter storm Virgil brought some sad news.

When I saw the headline of the newest-named storm, I wrote to Carolyn Beckwith, the daughter of fabled pitcher Virgil Trucks. They both share a fine sense of humor. I knew that the pair would love the headlines of “Virgil” conquering America.

I was too late. “Fire” passed away Saturday at age 95.

According to the Detroit News tribute, this hobby hero wanted to sign autographs during his final days in the hospital. In his final months, he hadn’t been well enough to handle fan mail.

However, this baseball ambassador was legendary for his above-and-beyond replies to fan mail throughout his life. He shared his autograph philosophy in this 2011 blog feature.

Virgil’s funeral comes Thursday. The World War II veteran will be buried in a military cemetery.

As I spoke to Carolyn , I thanked her. Virgil’s family supported his eternal dedication to fan mail. In our last conversation, I asked him why he was so kind and thorough answering autograph requests of people who may not have even been alive during his career.

“We all love baseball,” he replied.

I’ll never forget Virgil Trucks. Amazingly, I don’t think he ever forgot any of us.